Senate Bill 375 will push California communities to consider climate change impacts of development in regional planning, with an emphasis on reducing car travel. The bill requires the California Air Resources Board to set regional targets by September 2010 for reducing greenhouse-gas emissions. The state will use its annual $5 billion pot of transportation money to encourage regions to embrace compact residential development.
In his work as a land planner in North Carolina, Aaron Newton works to create sustainable places. But it's not just his job: awareness of peak oil has led him to promote relocalization close to home, and led to coauthoring a new book that expands the definition of agricultural land.
After decades of migration to ever-further-out suburbs, high gas prices are spurring a rethink of homebuying priorities and policies that subsidize sprawl.
It's impossible to understate how crucial cheap oil has become to our way of life. It's shaped how we get our food, what we buy, where we live, how we work, and the way we play. Cheap oil opened up the world to millions of travellers via discount airlines, allowed thousands to buy their first homes in sprawling suburbs, and enabled consumers to get their hands on ever cheaper goods, shipped just in time, from around the globe. Now economists say all of that is at risk.
Gas prices in Sydney, Australia, are soaring - but they're not hurting everyone evenly. A recent study has found that residents of the western ring of suburbs are spending, on average, three times what their inner-city counterparts are spending on fuel. Insufficient public transit infrastructure gives residents of these suburbs little option but to keep paying, at a cost to other parts of their lives and to the community.
Anthony Perl, coauthor of the book Transport Revolutions, talks to the Vancouver, B.C. Georgia Straight about the effect of high oil prices on property values. The upshot: properties that are far from jobs and other important amenities will lose value, while ones that don't require cars will be more desirable. And it's happening already.
"An ever-expanding footprint of our urban areas is not sustainable," says John Gormley, Ireland's Minister for the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. That department has just released a new set of planning guidelines for sustainable residential development in urban areas.
The US's first suburb, Levittown, is launching a program to encourage energy efficiency upgrades in its homes. Volunteers are going door-to-door to publicize house upgrades that could improve the community's carbon footprint by 20%. But "having a green neighborhood and a green home are two different things" --although greening the houses is a step forward, the suburban form creates much greater impacts by requiring car use.
Alex Steffen of WorldChanging on why developing low-emissions vehicles is nowhere near as important as developing more compact, efficient and livable cities. Focus on new automotive technologies can distract us from the much more effective strategy of building in less-consumptive ways.
This beautiful book is an excellent reference for coming to grips with that slippery but important issue, density. Density can have both positive and negative connotations -- and effects -- depending on its context and execution. The photos in Visualizing Density illustrate this wonderfully, and can help us get a better mental grasp on the variety of ways people can live at a variety of different density levels.